Bexar family receives honor for farming

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Originally Published June 30, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated June 28, 2013 at 10:45 a.m.
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Carol Rolf/Contributing Photographer

The Terry Brown family of the Bexar community is the 2013 Fulton County Farm Family of the Year. Family members include, front row, Sydney Brown; and back row, from the left, Terry Brown, Savannah Brown and Becky Brown. The family raises registered Gelbvieh cattle, as well as hogs, laying hens and hay.

BEXAR — Terry Brown is quick to point out that his daughters own more of the family’s cattle than he does.

“They show at the county fair, the district fair and the state fair,” he said with a smile. The Browns raise and show registered Gelbvieh cattle on their 114-acre farm south of Viola.

Terry, 47, and his family — wife Becky, 42, and daughters Savannah, 17, and Sydney, 13 — have been named the 2013 Fulton County Farm Family of the Year. In addition to 30 head of cattle, they raise registered Spot and Yorkshire hogs, laying hens and hay.

“We are humbled by this honor,” Terry said of receiving the Farm Family of the Year award. “We’re not doing anything different than anyone else. Maybe God had a purpose for us receiving the honor.”

“We are honored,” Becky said, “I was really surprised.”

“My wife and I were married in 1988,” Terry said. “From the time we were married, we kind of had our eye on this farm,” Terry said as he explained how the couple got into farming. “It belonged to an older couple that I was kin to. It had been in our family from the time it was homesteaded in 1879.

“God gave us the opportunity to purchase the farm in 2006. We had to sell 40 acres off it so we could afford the rest. In 2012, we were able to buy back the 40 acres.”

Terry said both of them had spent some time on a farm when they were younger and had always wanted a farm of their own.

“We fell in love with this farm before we owned it,” Terry said. “We got into the Gelbviehs and hogs because our girls showed in the fairs, and it just grew from there.

“It’s like a friend,” he said of the farm. “I can’t image doing anything else.”

Terry is the son of Robert Brown of Viola and the late Gracie Brown. He said the farm, which was known as the “Marvin Harber place,” was homestead by an ancestor of his mother’s, Allen Dillinger.

The Browns strive to raise the best Gelbvieh cattle they can. They cull heavily from the herd and have attended classes in artificial insemination. They have worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in cross-fencing their farm for grazing and installing five watering stations for their cattle. They have also planted vetch to increase the quality of their pastures.

Terry said that among the biggest challenges they face on the farm are “the weather and the economy. They have been tough.”

“And the army worms,” Becky added with a laugh. “We turned to our local agencies for advice. They have been so helpful.”

Terry also mentioned the ice storm of 2009.

“We were without power for 18 days,” he said.

But the rewards outweigh the challenges, Terry said. “Through God’s grace, we are able to raise the kids in this environment.

“I love the farm, but the greatest thing in my life are my kids.”

Both Terry and Becky work off the farm as well. He has worked at Sealco Manufacturing Co. in Mountain Home since 1988; the company makes metal gaskets for the oil industry. She is a paraprofessional at Calico Rock Elementary School.

Becky was born in Kentucky, the daughter of Carol Buchanan of West Plains, Mo., and Jeremy Sidebottom of Louisville, Ky. She was raised in Salem, graduating from Salem High School in 1988.

Terry is a 1984 graduate of Viola High School and served four years in the Navy.

The Browns met on a blind date. They will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in July.

The Browns attend Bryon Community Church. Both Terry and Becky have served as Fulton County 4-H Livestock Club leaders and Sunday School teachers and are FFA alumni. They are also members of the National Gelbvieh Association.

Savannah and Sydney both belong to the Fulton County 4-H Livestock Club.

Savannah was a Fulton County Junior Fair Ambassador and a member of the Senior Beta Club and Future Business Leaders of America. She participated in band was on the basketball team and trap shooting team. She was the winner of the Fulton County Fair Scholarship. Savannah will be a freshman in the fall at Southern Arkansas University, where she will study pre-veterinary medicine. She hopes to become a veterinarian.

“Large animals,” she said.

Sydney will be in the eighth-grade at Calico Rock High School. She is active in band and basketball, a member of the Junior Beta Club and FFA, and is a junior fair ambassador. She hopes to attend the University of Arkansas or Lyon College, then law school at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She hopes to become a sports attorney and work for the New Orleans Saints professional football team.

The Browns lead a busy life — working on and off the farm, as well as supporting their daughters in all of their activities.

“We try to keep our priorities straight, with God guiding each step we take, and the rest will fall in place,” Terry said. “We only have this farm because God let us use it for a while.”

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